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The Last Word

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Irs 18, Washington 16, Kelly Ayotte 12, Benghazi 10, Ayotte 8, The Irs 7, Spiriva 6, Subaru 5, Claire Mccaskill 5, Lawrence 4, Us 4, Obama 4, New Hampshire 4, America 4, Garth 3, Melanie Sloan 3, Bjorn 3, Copd 3, Michael Bloomberg 2, Chris Hayes 2,
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  MSNBC    The Last Word    News/Business.  (2013) New.  

    May 15, 2013
    7:00 - 8:01pm PDT  

mayor elect a pair of briefs to stash in the mailbox in case he has the same predicament. meantime, maybe simple congratulations is just in order. this is why new jersey is used as an adjective, not just as a proper noun. this is very, very new jersey. now it is time for "the last word with lawrence o'donnell." have a great night. president obama took action today to try to contain scandal fever sweeping washington. released 100 e-mails about benghazi, got rid of the head of the irs. >> americans have a right to be angry about it and i am angry about it. >> two erupting scandals. >> the irs has been used as a political tool through history. >> we will hold the responsible parties accountable. >> every day this week. >> veritable storm of scandals. >> brings a new scandal. >> stop calling it a huge scandal. >> everybody simmer down now! >> let the facts speak for
themselves. >> the good news, it is fixable. >> i don't understand what they're accusing the president of doing. >> my question isn't about who is going to resign. >> acting commissioner of the irs. >> my question is who is going to jail over this scandal. >> i look forward to taking questions at tomorrow's press conference. >> i don't even understand what they're accusing the president of doing. >> the ap scandal engulfing the administration. >> let's be clear it is perfectly legal. >> we can't count on the administration to be forthcoming. >> mitch mcconnell gets hysterical over nothing. >> house republicans are getting their chance to put the president and his cabinet on the hot seat. >> in the way it doesn't smack of politics or partisan agendas. >> you can't connect it to him without gross speculation. >> stop calling it a huge scandal. >> i will not tolerate this kind of behavior. >> you have a president like richard nixon do this. >> some republicans saying president obama should be impeached. >> and there are calls and demands immediately for impeachment. >> that's insane. >> two words, fellows, president
biden. with the political media dizzy from scandal fever, the president decided today the only thing that can get that fever to go down, show the political media he is taking charge of scandal media at the white house, even though there are no scandals involving the white house in any way. first, the president dealt with talking points scandal that is not a scandal. the white house released today 100 pages of e-mails that revealed discussion that went on between the cia and state department over exactly how to describe the attack in benghazi, libya, that killed our ambassador, christopher stevens. it is important to remember it is scandalous, it really is scandalous that an american ambassador was killed.
there was a scandalous failure in the state department to provide adequate security to that ambassador before that ambassador was attacked. it is a scandal that the ambassador was left in such a vulnerable position in benghazi. the obama administration conducted its own investigation of that scandal late last year, as a result four state department officials were relieved of duties. the deputy assistant responsible for embassy security and undisclosed official. republicans in washington and no one else anywhere in the world thinks that these scandals of benghazi is what one person that had no involvement in it at all said about it on television one sunday morning. only in washington could that be a scandal. and the 100 pages of e-mails
released today show the internal debate didn't include political interference from the white house, according to e-mails provided to congressional intelligence committees several months ago. republicans had these e-mails several months, they have known there's nothing incriminating of the white house, and only after republicans began to recite certain sections of e-mails and after abc news misquoted those e-mails, only then did the president decide it was time to make the e-mails public. benghazi talking points scandal should evaporate now, should just disappear. and there is a slight chance it might because all of washington, all of washington now believes, democrats and republicans, that they have a real scandal in what the internal revenue service did. and today the president tried to show that he was taking charge of that one, too.
>> i just finished speaking with secretary lew, senior officials at the treasury department to discuss the investigation into irs personnel who improperly screened conservative groups applying for tax exempt status. it is inexcusable and americans have a right to be angry about it and i am angry about it. i will not tolerate this kind of behavior in any agency, but especially in the irs. so here is what we're going to do. first, we're going to hold the responsible parties accountable. today secretary lew took the first step by requesting and accepting the resignation of the acting commissioner of the irs because given the controversy surrounding the audit, it is important to institute new leadership that can help restore confidence going forward. second, we're going to put in place new safeguards to make sure this kind of behavior cannot happen again. third, we will work with congress as it performs its oversite role. and our administration has to
make sure that we are working hand in hand with congress to get this thing fixed. congress, democrats and republicans, owe it to the american people to treat that authority with the responsibility it deserves in a way that doesn't mack of politics or partisan agendas because i think one thing that you've seen is across the board everybody believes what happened as reported in the ig report is an outrage. >> yeah, everybody. everybody but me. i do not believe what the irs was reported to have been doing is an outrage. i believe the irs agents in this case did nothing wrong. let me say it again. you won't hear it anywhere else. the irs agents did nothing wrong. they were simply trying to enforce the law as the irs has understood it since 1959. i have been telling you all week that the irs is wrong about their interpretation of the law,
an interpretation that they introduced in 1959, but it is not the fault of anyone working in the irs today. it is now very clear that whoo i've been saying about this is getting through to the white house and we'll have more about that later when i will show you more of exactly how the irs took a wrong turn under president eisenhower and has been on the wrong road on this one ever since. krystal ball, my concern is the concern of washington in this segment, how is the president doing in his management of what i think are the faux scandals. >> i think you're doing an excellent job of separating the perception and what the media wants to write and the reality of the nonscandals. i think the president has done actually a very good job. he went out today, he finally, i don't know why he didn't release the benghazi e-mails earlier, i guess he thought even for
republicans six months of harping on talking points would be too much, nothing is too much for them. >> part of it is he thought he did release them earlier. he released them several months ago to the people that were so desperately interested in them. they had them, they read them, nothing came of it. >> this has been his consistent flaw to the extent he had one in his presidency, trusting too much that they're operating in good faith, that they're interested in the facts, that they will, you know, if they see the evidence there that there was no on page 59, the white house saying this will surely lead to, you know, the president being reelected in 2012, that they will move on to something else, but clearly that's not the case. so finally he was forced to say here is what it is. and with the irs, i think he had to relieve somebody of their duty for people to feel he was taking charge and taking action, even though i agree with you the real problem with 501 c 4s is not that these groups were
targeted, that all groups aren't being targeted and there isn't more scrutiny over political activities for 501 c 4s. >> richard, there's a simple thing in politics. when the irs comes up as an elected official in america, it is your obligation to attack them. >> right. >> there's not an elected official who will find himself defending the irs publicly, pretty much at any time. >> i recall in the late '90s when there was nothing much else to talk about, the senate was obsessed with the irs and atm fees. two most loathed things in america when it comes to finance. you're right, everyone hates them. no political capital as bush would have put it. there's a preexception not just by the president's performance but by everyone else, this has been a fumble operation. people haven't projecting knowledge of what went on or control. his appearance as you saw today, much more forceful. when you get into a white house
briefing and the attitud is we don't know or that's someone else's problem, that's not good enough. >> i will say with the doj, ap scandal in particular, it would be a scandal if the president was involved in the subpoenaing of those telephone records if he knew more about the investigation, that would be the scandal. and i think it is a completely unreasonable bar to expect he would know what some low level bureaucrats in cincinnati were doing. how can he possibly know what the millions of government employees in the country are up to at all times. >> well, there's a clear bar between the white house and irs, there has been since the nixon administration, when there was no bar and they went absolutely crazy. >> one problem with the nixonian, nobody is in there to steer the political bidding. nobody, not even the craziest talk on the right has been able to say the president ordered this to happen because there's no way for that to happen. >> talk about crazy talk,
speaker of the house of representatives, third in line for the presidency as they like to point out saying not who's going to be fired, who's going to go to jail. talk about prejudging a situation. there isn't a wift of criminal conduct here. >> not at all, you have mitch mcconnell, not directly saying the president did this in the irs, they're saying this was intentional by the administration, by an executive branch agency to chill the speech of political opponents. they're trying to make that connection. >> it was approved. number two, you can do everything a 501 c 4 allows you to do without being one. a lot of them conducted their business without getting approved, even went out of business before the applications were ruled on and didn't make the slightest bit of difference. >> and democratic organizations had the same scrutiny and delays
about to come forward. that's the next beat of the story. >> quickly, i think the republicans are making the mistake they have been making a long time, thinking that the american public hates the president as much as they do. >> exactly. krystal ball, richard wolff, thank you. >> thanks, lawrence. more on the real scandal at the irs, how i think the president is aware now what the real scandal is. attorney general holder's confrontation with darrell issa. what do you do if you're a senator that voted against what 90% of the people want. one approach would be to lie and say you voted for it. and that is why senator kelly ayotte is in the "rewrite." dry mouth may start off as an irritant. it'll cause cavities, bad breath. patients will try and deal with it by drinking water. water will work for a few seconds
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is wrong about the irs scandal. i have been fighting this lonely battle here this week. now finally, finally i have company. some people finally are understanding what i've been saying. i got through two, president obama and the chairman of the finance committee. you'll here it coming up. when you're carrying forda lot of weight, c-max has a nice little trait, you see, c-max helps you load your freight, with its foot-activated lift gate. but that's not all you'll see, cause c-max also beats prius v, with better mpg. say hi to the 47 combined mpg c-max hybrid.
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>> no, no. i am not going to stop tng thousand. you characterized something as something -- >> mr. chairman, would you inform the witness as to the rules of the committee? >> it is too consistent with the way in which you conduct yourself as a member of congress, it is unacceptable and it is shameful. >> eric holder, mad as hell and he's not going to take it any more. that was the attorney general today talking to one of the republicans who sees scandal in everything the obama administration says or does. even bill o'reilly thinks republicans are overdoing it. >> the reason president obama can get away with saying all his troubles are caused by political attacks is that some on the right go way beyond established facts, and in fact they're giving him cover. the heavy odds are that the president did not directly order the irs to pound conservative groups. down the road, the irs and ap stories might become nightmares for president obama, but again, that has not yet been
established. >> ari melber, bill o'reilly. almost the voice of reason. >> he said bill o'reilly was the reasonable person at fox like the thin kid at fat camp. we see it here. charles krauthammer as right as you get says republicans are overplaying their hand. they compared every mini wannabe scandal to watergate, slin dra and now the low level operational questions as i discussed with you should be investigated, igs should be involved, but these are not obama level issues. when you immediately say they are, you give away the game, in the same sense that attorney general holder is the first one held in contempt by the house, but it was a year ago when they did it over fast and furious, over e-mails, about responding to congressional requests. they have nothing left to go after holder, they already did
the worse they could do. >> listen to what charles krauthammer has to say about this. >> one advice i give to republicans is stop calling it a huge scandal. stop saying it is a watergate, stop saying it is iran contra. let the facts speak for themselves. have a select committee, facts speak for themselves, pile them on, but don't exaggerate, don't run ads about hillary, feeds the narrative for the other side it is only a political event. it is not. >> nia malika-henderson, what are the chances that congressional republicans were taking notes when charles krauthammer was saying that and they will actually be guided by that in the future? >> absolutely no chance at all. i mean, you have darrell issa, like a kid in a candy store at this point, he really feels like this is his moment. he feels like he's got some lines of inquiry here with these three scandals that we've seen. you saw the president come out today and deal strongly with
benghazi and the irs scandal. it was a drop the mike moment i thought at the press conference for this president. but on the other hand you have republicans who are already asking more questions about this administration, what they knew, who the irs low level aides got direction from. portman was on the radio saying i think you have a situation where you have some republicans who might be worried about immigration stands, their stance on same-sex marriage in the case of portman. these scandals give them opportunity to court and curry favor with a really far right wing of the base. that's why you see boehner grabbing the benghazi scandal and running with it, i think you'll see more of that in the house. >> ari, this is such an important point nia brought up, multidimensional nature of the politics of scandal, not just i want to taint the other guy with something, but it is frequently i want to you not pay attention to what i'm not doing, like
anything on the budget, and i need you to think i'm really a hardcore guy on this because i plan to vote in a way you aren't going to like very much a few months from now. >> right. certainly the case on the irs where a key constituency, the republican party, that's always saying they're not good enough is now in the news, whether it was low level targeting or not, they're in the news, feel attacked. this is a way the republicans can with relatively low cost, i'm sorry to say, can go and make the bones there. the comparison to watergate you have been talking about several nights which are overblown, the most interesting thing is watergate was an example of nonpartisan oversite. the judiciary committee had six republicans that voted on articles of impeachment for nixon which forced his hand to resign, they weren't putting party first. now we're seeing the opposite of watergate, oversite process run as opposition research out of rnc. that's why bill o'reilly is
nervous, the public steps back and says i don't trust it. >> nia malika, there's commentary from rush limbaugh and others on this matter. seems to me given there are things brewing in congress that the republicans may actually act on that will displease the tea party, the ability to be seen to be fighting for the tea party, against of all things the internal revenue service is just a gift that the republicans cannot resist. >> that's right. it is a gift and you know, in many ways you look at what the rhetoric of the tea party has been all along, which is that they're out to get us. this irs scandal really plays very well into that. so you have folks looking at this 2014 re-election, they feel like they have the narrative they want going into 2014, which is that this is an administration that thinks it is king obama in some ways and all about government overreach, and you feel like that's what
they're going into 2014 arguing. what sort of legislation, what kind of governing philosophy they will run on? looks like not much of anything, and that their plan so far is to be the obstructionist for obama's agenda. i think the problem again for obama is the same and that is he's got to go through john boehner for any of his legislative agenda, whether with the budget, the grand bargain, immigration. i don't think that equation has changed. >> ari, in terms of 2014 campaign, there's no evidence in our record of these kinds of campaigns that there's anything in this that can help republicans, president obama is not running, they're running against individual members of the house and senators, there's no way on earth you can assign the irs thing or the ap thing or benghazi or anything else you want to any democratic member of the house or senate. >> no. i think this could be a mobilization strategy for hardcore tea party republican base. the problem is those folks are
already behind the house congressional candidates. i think that's their problem. >> nia malika-henderson, ari melber, thanks for joining me. >> thank you. the irs scandal, the real scandal going on for decades, it has been going on longer than the irs workers who were caught up in this one have been alive. we're going to get to that coming up. and you'll dump your old broom. but don't worry, he'll find someone else. ♪ who's that lady? ♪ who's that lady? ♪ sexy lady ♪ who's that lady? [ female announcer ] swiffer sweeper's electrostatic dry cloths attract and lock dirt, dust, and hair on contact to clean 50% more than a broom. it's a difference you can feel. swiffer gives cleaning a whole new meaning. and now swiffer wet and dry refills are available with the fresh scent of gain. and now swiffer wet andnehey!r!ills [squeals] ♪
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everybody believes what happened as reported in the ig report is an outrage. >> as faithful viewers of the program know, not everybody does believe that. i don't. what happened was the internal revenue service agents were trying to do their jobs, jobs made impossible by an incorrect interpretation of the law that the irs made in 1959. that's when the irs got this wrong. it was then that the irs as i have been telling you since the story started changed the language of the law without any authority to do so. here is how the tax law was written in its latest update in 1954 on 501(c)4 social welfare organizations. 501(c)4 designation was to apply only to, quote, civic leagues or
organizations, not organized for profit, but operated exclusively, exclusively for the promotion of social welfare. exclusively! but a 1959 interpretation guideline written by the irs says that to be operated exclusively to promote social welfare, an organization must operate primarily to further the common good and general welfare, and there's not an english teacher in the world who couldn't tell you how wrong that sentence is. with absolutely no legal authority to do so, the irs changed the word exclusively to mean primarily. and then the irs never defined what they meant by primarily, never. now, i have been a very lonely voice in the woods on this
matter. until today. last night i said on this program the government has been wrong about 501(c)4s for so long it was entirely possible no one in the government knew how wrong everyone in the government is about this. someone on the staff of the senate finance committee where i used to work must have heard that and altered the chairman of the senate finance committee's take on it today to say this. >> another important question needs to be asked. is there a fault in the tax code that may have contributed to the irs taking such unacceptable steps? do we need a better definition of an organization to qualify for tax exemptions? do we need to revisit the role tax exempt organizations play in the political system? what part of the tax code has to be changed to guarantee this never happens again? >> all good questions, and as a dutiful former staff of the
senate finance committee that used to sit right on the senate floor beside the chairman there, i am once again ready to supply a finance committee chairman with the answer. this time i won't be whispering it in his ear. the answer is no part of the tax code has to change to ensure that this never happens again. we simply need to enforce the tax code which says 501(c)4 organizations are civic leagues or organizations not organized for profit, but operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare. that word exclusively would mean that no political organizations would ever be able to get 501(c)4 status. no tea party organizations, no democratic party organizations, no republican party organizations, no libertarian organizations, no organizations of any kind. no political organization should ever, ever have gotten 501(c)4
status, and that's exactly what the law already says. it seems that overnight someone at the white house has tipped off the president about the problem of the law versus irs interpretation of the law, and i don't know where anyone in the white house would have learned that except here, since no one in washington indicated they know anything about it. listen carefully to this part of what the president had to say today. >> we're going to have to make sure the laws are clear so that we can have confidence that they are enforced in a fair and impartial way, and there's not too much ambiguity surrounding these laws. >> the rogue at the irs that created the ambiguity was chief counsel of the irs in 1962, appointed by president kennedy. crane c. houser knew there was a
difference between the law as written and the irs interpretation of that law, and he acknowledged a policy decision as to whether the language of the statute or language of the regulation's controls should be reached. but he not only refused to reach it, he chose to deny 501(c)4 status only to organizations that are primarily engaged in political activity, and thus the deed was done. and irs agents were left to try to figure out just how political political organizations could be and still get tax exempt status under 501(c)4. today citizens for responsibility and ethics in washington have done in writing in an official pleading to the bernl revenue service what i have been trying to do on this program. in a 17 page filing that contains a masterful history of
how wrong the irs has been for so long about this matter, they are asking the irs to simply enforce the law as written by congress and to drop the irs false interpretation of that law. the pleading says it is critical that the irs act now by promulgating new regulations that comport with the statutory requirement of 501(c)4 organizations to be operated exclusively for social welfare purposes. joining me now, melanie sloan, executive director for citizens for responsibility in ethics in washington. thank you, melanie sloan! i am not alone any more on this issue. i love this document, your 17 page document, i have been reading and underlining all day. i've got to say, i've never seen anything like this in law. you know in the legislative process people fight for days, sometimes weeks, months, over
single words like exclusively and someone got that word exclusively into the law, and then at the irs they just changed it to primarily and they changed everything, didn't they? >> they did. and it happened as you said earlier decade ago, starting in 1959. the irs has been well aware this has been a problem for decades. in the '60s it was raised, in the '70s it was raised. there has always been this problem between the statutory language which is what congress passed which says exclusively and the regulation enacted by the irs which says primarily. and then the irs made matters all the worse by never defining primarily and what a primary purpose is, know the that by the way organizations haven't walked well over whatever the primary purpose line could possibly be anyway, many people view it as about 50%, but groups like american action network spent well over 60% of budgets on
political activities, clearly in violation of even the primary purpose test. so this has been a very long problem and in fact a crew and plaintiff, former congressional candidate david gill sued the irs over this failure to have a regulation that come plies with the law as early as february, but it has been hard to get any traction to get people to talk about the issue of 501(c)4s until this scandal. >> the great news, heard the guy that can fix this, chairman of the senate finance committee on the floor who seems to get the point, and president obama very clearly gets it. he kind of put it at the end of his statement today in a thing all of the media will not understand, but he gets it, that there is a problem with the way the law is being administered. there's no problem in the way the law is written. the law is written beautifully. >> that's right. and the ig in the ig report, he, too, recognized this was an issue. that irs employees are floundering, don't know how to enforce the law, don't know what
the law is. there's never been clarity for them. that's why we're in this state. what really needs to happen is the irs needs to go back, get rid of this regulation. and the irs has been asked several times in the past couple years to deal with this problem. whenever asked, they say well, they're aware of the problem. but aware of the problem isn't doing something about the problem. >> melanie sloan, citizens for responsibility and ethics in washington, a group that operates honorably as a 501 c 3. thank you for joining us tonight. >> thank you. coming up, how one republican senator that voted against expanded background checks is now trying to say, she's actually saying it, that she voted for them. that of course is one way to get into tonight's "rewrite." and senator claire mccaskill will talk about her reaction to the latest sexual assault case in the military and legislation she's introducing to stop it. changing the world is exhausting business.
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with unusual endorsement on her fliers. anna pierre said she was endorsed by jesus christ shs says the revolution came to her in a dream. >> yes, jesus endorsed me. >> does he like you more than other people running for mayor? >> well, this is funny. listen, if he likes me more, i don't know if he likes me more. what i can tell you, i know he loves me very much. >> she's now a registered nurse actually came in last out of seven candidates which prompted her to say north miami chose lucifer over jesus. that will be hard to top in the "rewrite," which is next. fee of gevalia house blend over the taste of starbucks house blend? not that we like tooting our own horn but... ♪ toot toot. [ male announcer ] find gevalia in the coffee aisle or at
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what do you do when you're a junior senator from new hampshire and voted against something 90% are in favor of. >> i received your four page letter regarding guns and background checks. i really don't understand. it doesn't make sense to me. what is wrong with universal background checks? [ applause ] >> that's what happened to new hampshire republican senator kelly ayotte after she voted against expanded background checks for gun purchases. she kept running into the 75% of new hampshire voters that supported the bill that she voted against. she kept running into the 56% of new hampshire republicans who supported the bill that she voted against. and her poll numbers in new hampshirno a conservative program democrat and republican come out with a tough on crime background check bill that keeps guns away from criminals while protecting the second amendment, but ayotte votes no. no to police, no to fighting crime, no to background checks for criminals. that's not. >> new hampshire common sense. >> that's gone washington. >> that ad was sponsored by mayors against illegal guns which is supported largely by the wealth of new york city's mayor michael bloomberg. kelly ayotte knew she had to fight back. that meant having the nra do her fighting for her.
national rifle association paid for this ad. >> seen this tv ad paid for by new york city mayor michael bloomberg? don't believe it. kelly ayotte voted for a bipartisan plan to make background checks more effective. here is her vote. ayotte voted for a bipartisan plan to reform our broken mental health system. ayotte voted for more resources to prosecute criminals that use guns. kelly ayotte stands with prosecutors and police for new hampshire values. >> yeah. the national rifle association's defense of kelly ayotte's vote against background checks was to say she actually voted for background checks, something that the nra opposed. and here is how that particular slight of hand works. it is a standard washington trick. after kelly ayotte stood on the senate floor as part of a minority able to block the will of the majority to legislate
expanded background checks, she stood on the senate floor and voted for a fake background check bill so that later she could claim if she needed to that she voted for some kind of background checks. the bill that senator ayotte voted for was in effect written by the nra and actually would have weakened the current law on background checks and would have made it easier for people with dangerous mental illness to get guns. so kelly ayotte voted for the nra's rewrite of the bipartisan background check bill, the one that everyone was really paying attention to, and now the nra and its tv ad is rewriting senator ayotte's vote to sound like she voted for the manchin, toomey bill. senator ayotte is also getting help lying to new hampshire from
senator marco rubio, who is exploring just how much you can lie to new hampshire in an ad his super pac is running for kelly ayotte. rubio is, of course, hoping you can lie a lot to new hampshire since he will be running for president in the new hampshire primary next time around. here is marco rubio's lie to new hampshire about kelly ayotte. >> safety, security, family. no one understands these things like a mom. and no one works harder for them than this one. a former prosecutor, kelly ayotte knows how to reduce gun violence. ayotte voted to fix background checks, strengthen mental health screenings, and more resources to prosecute criminals using guns. washington might not like it but you can count on it. >> what the -- what do you mean washington may not like it? washington would have loved it if kelly ayotte volted to expand
background checks, america would have loved it. she would have joined the majority of the united states senate that voted to do that. she is not bucking washington by voting against expanded background checks. she was bucking america. she was bucking new hampshire. and as we have already seen in the town hall meetings and in the polls, new hampshire doesn't like it. >> ayotte stands for our values, not there. >> meaning kelly ayotte stands for the nra's values, not new hampshire's. with the spark miles card from capital one, bjorn earns unlimited rewards for his small business. take these bags to room 12 please. [ garth ] bjorn's small business earns double miles on every purchase every day. produce delivery. [ bjorn ] just put it on my spark card. [ garth ] why settle for less? ahh, oh! [ garth ] great businesses deserve unlimited rewards. here's your wake up call. [ male announcer ] get the spark business card from capital one and earn unlimited rewards. choose double miles or 2% cash back
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as reported here last night, the pentagon is dealing with another sexual assault allegation involving an officer who's supposed to be a leader in sexual assault prevention. last week it was the air force. this week it is the army. a coordinator for the army's sexual assault prevention program at fort hood, texas is
being investigated for possibly forcing one of his subordinates into prostitution, sexually assaulting two others. an statement last night, claire mccaskill asked are folks filling these jobs that aren't succeeding elsewhere or are these jobs being given to our best leaders? today senator mccaskill and new hampshire senator jeanne shaheen wrote to chuck hagel urging him to make all sexual assault prevention jobs what they call a nominative position, requiring rigorous application screening and interviewing process, direct involvement from the commander who would hand pick that person. joining me, member of the senate armed services committee, senator claire mccaskill. i cannot believe we are back here on this subject in this way
once again. >> yeah. i think what we're seeing here is how far behind the military is in terms of changing their culture and recognizing this is a serious crime and that we need to prioritize going after the criminals, need to focus like a laser on that. clearly the people in these jobs are not the right people for these jobs. that's why we draw up legislation to codify requirement that they retrain, rescrub, reprioritize this particular line of work in the military and put strong leadership there instead of obviously folks that are being put there to end their careers or tread water. >> senator, the military is all about career advancement, all about moving up the ranks. >> right. >> how do you make this job something that people should actually seek in order to move up in rank, if they do it well?
>> that's exactly at the heart of this, how do we change the culture that the folks that go to the jobs are not seen as the ones that have an upper trajectory. because you're exactly right, lawrence. in the military it is all about are you moving up. this is not seen as a move up. this is seen as a lateral move or place where people go to end their careers. we've got to change that. what we're trying to do with everything we're doing around this subject is get the military's attention that the only way, they're not going to train their way out of this, they're not going to tell people to have the buddy system or don't say yes if you've been drinking, we've got to make sure we've got professional prosecutors, victim advocates, a justice system that's professionalized, and we need to take the buddy culture out of it completely, which means changing how the jobs are viewed internally in the military. >> senator, on this issue of career advancement, we have seen the case of air force lieutenant
general susan helms, nominated by president obama to become the vice commander of the air force's space command, and she was nominated by the president to do that after she in a very controversial move overturned a finding in one of these kinds of cases, did exactly what you've been complaining about in the military, very striking that it was done by a woman officer. what is your response to a situation like that? >> well, this case frankly did not get out in the public domain until i discovered it through conversations with a lot of different prosecutors in the military. then i said to my staff let's check and make sure she is not going through on promotion. sure enough, we found her name. we held her nomination for now. i had an opportunity to visit with her, we are looking at the specifics of the case. it is a tough situation, she's
had an outstanding career, but she did decide to overturn the decision of a jury she handpicked over whether or not there was sufficient evidence and who was telling the truth. and frankly that's what we've got to stop. we have got to stop the ability of generals to second guess the people that are in the courtroom deciding the credibility of the witnesses because that's what these cases turn on, lawrence. i've done many of them in the courtroom. so often these cases are who's telling the truth. and you've got to rely on the jury in those instances and not supersede their judgment by a general after the fact who has no really working knowledge of the case. >> senator claire mccaskill, thank you for fighting this fight on behalf of our military service personnel. thank you for joining us tonight. >> thanks, lawrence. >> you have to wonder where this fight would be without those women senators. chris hayes is up next.
good evening from new york. i am chris hayes. thank you for joining us on a night we have breaking news out of the white house on two fronts. the white house administration's internal discussions over the benghazi attacks, e-mails that show, are you ready for this, the sound and fury over the administration's characterization of the tragedy is still much adieu about nothing. we'll get to that. but this evening, president obama also addressed the irs screening of certain right wing groups for extra scrutiny and announced his reaction to the treasury department's review. >> i've reviewed the treasury department watchdog's report, and the misconduct that uncovered is inexcusable. it's inexcusable and americans are right to be angry about it, and i am angry about it. today, secretary lew took the first step by requesting and